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Part 1: 7 Problems to Fix Before You Apply to Business School

April 18 2017 By The MBA Exchange
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There’s an abundance of advice available – in books, online, etc. – on what MBA applicants should feature in their applications to maximize the chances for admission. It can be very tempting to absorb that info, follow it as closely as possible, and just go for it. However, before you start producing your apps, The MBA Exchange strongly encourages you to take a look in the mirror and ask yourself a really tough question: “Is my candidacy strong enough to earn admission?”

If your answer is anything short of an enthusiastic “Yes!” then there are some timely actions to take that can help transform you into a truly competitive applicant. Based on the free evaluations that we’ve provided to thousands of eager MBA candidates over the past 20 years, there are 7 challenges for you to consider before you apply. In Part 1 of this 2-part blog series, we focus on four of those problems:

1. No evidence of solid quantitative abilities.

If your undergrad education was heavily “qualitative” or if your GPA, GMAT or GRE quant scores are well below average, then the adcom will wonder if you’re sufficiently competent for the MBA curriculum. If that’s your situation, then working with a top tutor and achieving a strong test score is probably your best move.

2. Recommenders don’t know you professionally AND personally.

MBA adcoms want to see a complete picture of your candidacy from a third-party perspective. So, getting a recommendation from a supervisor who can address only your work performance or from a friend who can attest to only your personality and character will not help you get admitted. Invest the time to cultivate recommenders who can endorse all aspects of your candidacy with solid examples.

3. Resume that excludes tangible — ideally quantified — results.

Even if you have the most demanding, complex job in the world, describing your daily responsibilities is not enough to impress a selective business school. You also need to convey the outcome and impact of your efforts. This can be difficult for some applicants (e.g., management consultants, analysts) but stating even “estimated” or “projected” results will help.

4. No direct interaction with MBA students and alumni.

You can’t convince an admissions committee that you know and love their campus culture unless you’ve engaged directly with members of the school community. Featuring relevant snippets from relevant conversations with those who know the school best will inject sincerity and authenticity into your applications and interviews.

So, which of these challenges resonate with you? Are you focused and motivated enough to confront and resolve them? If not, engaging the services of an experienced MBA grad or former admissions officer could prove extremely valuable. In any case, by examining your underlying candidacy and taking actions that will leverage your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses, you’ll maximize your chances for success.

(In Part 2 of this blog series, we’ll address three additional problems for you to consider.)